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Haffkine wants another farm to meet the country's anti-snake venom needs

Haffkine Bio-Pharmaceutical Corporation Ltd has asked the central government to shoulder half the expense of constructing a farm, so that production can be doubled

The Haffkine Bio-Pharmaceutical Corporation Ltd (HBPCL) has written a letter to the Public Health Department of the central government, asking for permission and support in the construction of a farm similar to the one already in existence in Pimpri, in order to double its production of anti-snake venom (ASV).

In India, 2.5 lakh snakebites are reported annually, that cause around 35,000-50,000 deaths. Of this, 2,000 deaths are caused in the state itself. The demand for ASVs is 70-80 lakh vials of 200 ml bottles each, whereas the actual supply is only around 20-25 lakh
In India, 2.5 lakh snakebites are reported annually, that cause around 35,000-50,000 deaths. Of this, 2,000 deaths are caused in the state itself. The demand for ASVs is 70-80 lakh vials of 200 ml bottles each, whereas the actual supply is only around 20-25 lakh

In this letter, the corporation has requested the central government to bear half the expenses that are met in setting up the farm. According to senior officials of HBPCL, the corporation drew up the proposal for a new farm after receiving several requests for supply of ASVs to states other than Maharashtra.

Haffkine, a subsidiary of the state government, has to meet the state’s needs on priority, and supply ASVs to other states only if it has surplus. Speaking to mid-day, S S Zende, managing director of HBPCL, said, “The letter was written so that the state-run corporation could cater to the overall requirements of ASVs across the country.

At present, the corporation is supplying ASVs to the state. But, if it is called upon to meet the demand for ASVs across India, the corporation may be allowed to set up a completely new facility for its manufacture, which would need to be funded by the government of India.” The estimated cost of a new farm is R30 crore, which would be borne equally by HBPCL and the central government, if it passes the proposal.

Heavy demand
At present, nine major companies produce good quality ASVs across the country. A senior official from HBPCL added, “The present need for ASVs across the country is 24 lakh vials, but the production including the nine companies result to a maximum of 15 lakh vials.

Private institutions do not produce ASVs, as they need permissions in almost every step from the Environment and Forest Ministry. It is also a very costly affair with an unstable market.”

In India, 2.5 lakh snakebites are reported annually, that cause around 35,000- 50,000 deaths. Out of this, 2,000 deaths are caused in the state itself. The demand for ASVs is 70-80 lakh vials of 200ml bottles each, whereas the actual supply is only around 20-25 lakh. The target set by the state government for the ongoing year is 3 lakh vials.

Officialspeak
“A proposal was submitted to the Animal Welfare Board, Government of India, and actual on-site facility enhancement for housing additional equines has already been initiated and started in the Pimpri unit. This will further enhance the production capacity to fulfil the nation’s requirement of anti-snake venom,” said Amit Dongare, PRO, HBPCL.

How ASVS are made
>> Venom removed from snake as per govt norms
>> Dilute form of the venom is inserted in the horse (as per strength).
>> After constant checking of the animal’s blood samples, blood is taken out as per veterinarian’s prescription. It usually takes 6-8 months for antibodies to be produced
>> Plasma separation is done where antibodies are separated from the blood
>> ASV is obtained in powder form by the procedure of lypholysation
>> HBPCL has now increased the number of horses in its Pimpri farm. It owns 800 and has hired another 200 on rent.

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